Barcelona are reportedly closing in on a shock deal for Borussia Dortmund's Marco Reus, and the German international would present a big transfer steal for the Blaugrana amidst reported interest from Manchester United.
The Express' Ben Jefferson claims Barcelona have a "verbal agreement" on a move for the player, who told Kicker magazine, via Sky Sports' Thomas Zocher, he had no intention of leaving his current club just a month ago:
It's safe to say I will be playing for Borussia Dortmund also in the 2014/2015 season.
Basically I do not need to stress all the time that I am feeling great being with the club.
As far as leaving (Borussia Dortmund) that is no issue for me, and I am not affected by it (the transfer release clause).
Jefferson, however, has learned Barcelona's Andoni Zubizarreta has prioritised the German attacker, with a move for Manchester City's Sergio Aguero out of the question:
Barcelona had reportedly made Aguero their top summer target but have now accepted that the Argentine is incredibly unlikely to be sold by City.
And that has seen Barca sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta turn to Reus as the next man on his list.
Barcelona see the 24-year-old as a cheaper and more versatile alternative to Aguero and are now closing in on a deal.
Reus reportedly has a £28m release clause in his contract at Dortmund but Barca hope they may be able to negotiate that fee down if the player tells them he intends to leave.
Sky Sports' Pete O'Rourke believes Reus' buyout clause only comes into effect in 2015, but that isn't stopping the Catalan giants from making their move.
If O'Rourke's claims the buyout clause can't be triggered during the summer of 2014 are correct, Rafael Hernandez doubts whether Dortmund would let the talented forward leave the club:
Convincing the Schwarzgelben of selling Reus won't be easy, but the fact the player appears to have changed his mind regarding his future at the club and has already reached a verbal agreement with Barcelona is good news for the club regardless.
Reus is one of the world's most versatile attacking players, capable of lining up in every midfield spot or playing as a wide forward. His 21 goals and 15 assists in 2013-14, per WhoScored.com, are a testament to his incredible production, but Reus does more than just fill the stat sheet.
His positioning and reading of the game are immaculate, and he is incredibly difficult to stop with the ball at his feet. A gifted athlete, Reus can set up teammates with incisive passing on every level of the pitch, and his technique when shooting the ball is world-class.
His best fit in Barcelona's system would be as a winger in support of Lionel Messi, and while some fans may think the Blaugrana already boast enough talent out on the wings, you simply can't pass on the opportunity of signing a world-class talent like Reus.
He could also move in a more central role when Messi is in need of a rest, or even move back a row and operate behind the attackers should Barcelona be in need of more bodies around the box.
Reus' fit isn't an issue, but the questions of his availability will remain. As mentioned before, the forward specifically stated he would be playing for Dortmund in 2014-15 just a few weeks ago, making the timing of this report curious at best.
Dortmund are already losing Robert Lewandowski to rivals Bayern Munich, and without Reus, the club would effectively be going into the new campaign without its two strongest attacking options.
The Blaugrana may be hoping they can negotiate a fair transfer fee for the player, but if there's no release clause, Dortmund will be dealing from a position of strength. The forward will cost the club a pretty penny, but he's well worth it.
Reus is currently busy preparing for the 2014 World Cup with Germany, so it could still be a while before we hear from the player himself regarding a potential transfer.
Whether or not Reus will be wearing the iconic blue-and-red strip next season remains to be seen, but should the forward make the move to Catalonia, it would be a shrewd bit of transfer business for the Blaugrana.